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October 15, 2009 - No Comments!

Blog Action Day – 10 Eco-design Tips #BAD09

Today is Blog Action Day (, Blog Action Day is an annual event held every October 15 that unites the world’s bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day with the aim of sparking discussion around an issue of global importance.

This years theme is climate change, so further to a blog by @thunderchunkyuk ( which I contributed to earlier today, I’ve put together 10 tips for on how to become a greener designer (whatever field you may be in).

1. Do not design products, but life cycles

Do not design "green" products. Instead, you should design environmentally sound product life cycles. Think about all material inputs and energy use of a product during its whole life cycle. From cradle to grave, or even better from cradle to cradle!

2. Natural materials are not always better

It is common believe that "natural" materials are more environmentally friendly than "artificial" or man made materials. Is this always true?
Of course, the production of 1 kg of wood causes less emissions than the production of 1 kg of plastic. But have you thought about the paint to preserve the wood, the energy needed to dry, the sawing losses?
In some products, you would need about ten times as much wood than plastic. Plastics can often be recycled, wood cannot. Can you really compare on a kilogram basis?
Environmentally sound materials do not exist, but environmentally friendly products and services do. Life cycle thinking helps a designer to develop these.

3. Energy consumption: often underestimated

People normally underestimate the environmental impacts of energy as you cannot hold electricity or gas in your hands.
Perhaps this simple example helps you understand:
•    10 kWh electricity needs 2 kg of oil.
•    Making 1 kg of plastic needs 1.5 to 2.5 kg of oil.
•    A coffee machine uses 300 kWh electricity during its lifetime, equal to 60 kg of oil. For the production of the machine less than 1 kg of plastic is used....

4. Stay on top of current trends in printing and production: They are constantly changing.

5. Spark change through collective strength

Work with local suppliers, minimise transport, recycle and use recycled materials. Buy responsibly and encourage suppliers to provide environmentally sensitive options

6. Use a minimum of material

Using less materials may seem obvious, but it is more complex than you think. Often you can reduce the amount of material by critically looking at dimensions, production techniques, etc.
It can even be beneficial to use materials that have a high environmental load per kilogram, if you can save weight. This is particularly true in transport, where less weight means less fuel consumption.

7. Use recycled materials

Do not only make your product recyclable, but use recycled materials as much as possible.
If you and other designers only make a product recyclable, there will never be a demand for recycled materials in the future. If there is a demand for recycled materials the supply will follow certainly.

8. Be innovative when it comes to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle:

Reuse can be ingenius. For example, menus or notebooks can be made from old books when bindings have been removed, most inner pages have been removed and replaced with recycled-content sketch pad paper, and new bindings are made with wire binding. Taking items with former lives and reinventing them can be unique and charming, and environmentally responsible.

9. Ask stupid questions!

Very often decisions are based on common practice: "We have always done it this way and it has always worked well".
You can make huge improvements in the environmental performance of products, with consequential cost savings, by simply asking the very obvious "Why?".

10. Become a member of

Offset the power used by your website.

For more ecodesign tips check:

Published by: Ben in Design, Factual

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